I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of connecting monetary contributions with miracles or blessings or inspiration. This idea seems wrong for several reasons:
- bad things also happen to people who pay their tithing and make other monetary contributions
- the concept seems uncomfortably similar to the medieval practice of buying and selling indulgences and
- it’s seems unlikely that God is stirring the pot as much as some of us might think.
The coupling of monetary contributions and blessings is prevalent in Mormonism today.
According to a personal note by David Tedder published in Sunstone magazine (Dec 2008, p. 5):
When the Stake President sat us down, it wasn’t about “getting out the vote,” knocking on doors, or putting a sign on our lawn [in support of Prop 8]. It was about making a contribution–a rather sizable contribution. He already had a figure in mind. Interestingly, my wife and I both heard the figure in our heads before he said it.
The hard part about being asked by the Church to do something like this is, despite free agency, we really don’t say no. And if we do, we just don’t get it. So after kneeling in prayer, we mailed a check the next morning for the requested amount. That same day, a miracle happened for my family which, although I won’t go into it, we believe came as a direct result of our decision.
This quote makes me extremely uncomfortable. It is my personal belief that the LDS Church should not have been involved in the Prop 8 election. Then to assign a miracle to contributing financially to the cause makes me doubly uncomfortable.
Along the same lines, there is a short biographical piece in the recent Ensign magazine (Dec 2011) about President Lorenzo Snow (fifth President of the LDS Church):
During President Snow’s time as prophet, Latter-day Saints in southern Utah were suffering from a drought. While speaking at a conference in the southern Utah town of St. George, President Snow was inspired to promise the Saints that it would rain and they would enjoy a bountiful harvest if they would pay tithing. Though the members paid their tithing, several months passed without rain. President Snow implored Heavenly Father to send rain. Later he received a telegram announcing, “Rain in St. George.”
This episode was captured in a LDS movie titled “The Windows in Heaven.” At the time when President Snow made his promise in St. George, the LDS Church was deeply in debt. In 1963, when “Windows” was released, the Church was again in financial trouble.
Also in the Dec 2011 issue of the Ensign is a quote from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (quoted from an article in the Ensign, May 2004, p. 41):
Do you want the windows of heaven opened to you? Do you wish to receive blessings so great there is not room enough to receive them? Always pay your tithing and leave the outcome in the hands of the Lord.”